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Community Relations Service


August 1, 2001
Contact: Daryl Borgquist

Martin A. Walsh, New England Regional Director for the Community Relations Service (CRS) in Boston, Massachusetts, was awarded today the Department of Justice’s Distinguished Service Award by Attorney General John Ashcroft.

The Distinguished Service Award is one of the Department’s highest service awards. Mr. Walsh was presented the award by the Attorney General at the Department’s Annual Awards Ceremony held in Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Martin Walsh has served with distinction as the New England Regional Director since 1974, having begun as a community relations officer in 1968 and rising through other field operations positions in Washington, D.C. He has provided unflagging leadership in the resolution of community racial conflict in the New England region and on national initiatives, involving education, policing and excessive use of force. He has many accomplishments to his credit, but a few stand out as prominent examples of his leadership.

In 1996, when national attention focused on the burning of Black churches and a concerted Federal response was implemented by the Department of Justice, Marty Walsh was tapped to lead the CRS effort. There was an immediate need to mobilize a special effort to mediate community tensions as federal, state, and local law enforcement began their investigations in traumatized communities. The timing could not have come at a worse time for CRS, which had just lost half of its staff due to budget downsizing. Walsh was undaunted. He called CRS employees who had been placed with other agencies to find out if they were willing to be detailed back to CRS. He formed a team from detailed employees and contractors and involved them in community mediation to resolve community racial tensions and help in church rebuilding efforts.

Each year the CRS New England regional office provides direct services to about 100 communities. While this alone is a formidable accomplishment, the New England regional office has gone well beyond this significant achievement. For 17 years under the leadership of Mr. Walsh, the New England region has cosponsored a New England education conference with State school departments and many other New England cities to resolve critical school issues, including the racial issues which confront school administrators throughout the region. In this same way, the New England regional office has brought together police chiefs from throughout New England to share best practices and approaches toward addressing police policies and practices affecting relationships between minority communities and law enforcement.

Mr. Walsh helped lead a CRS working group in the early 1980s which brought together police chiefs from across the country to find new approaches to policing problems. From this working group emerged a collection of principles and philosophy of policing which we now call community-oriented policing. CRS’ work with the police chiefs resulted in the 1982 publication of Principles of Good Policing: Avoiding Violence Between Police and Citizens, which was revised in 1993 to include an enhanced section on community-oriented policing. CRS case work and the need to address community policing issues resulted in publications on Police Use of Deadly Force and Police Use of Excessive Force. To strengthen municipal government structures to respond to racial issues, the New England regional office was a leader in establishing human relations commissions as a permanent mechanism for city governments and minority communities to use to strengthen communications and solve problems at the local level. CRS’ best practices were captured in the 1970's publication Guidelines for Establishing Human Relations Commissions, which was updated in the late 1990s and the Avoiding Racial Conflict: A Guide for Municipalities. Mr. Walsh was an integral force in all of these publications, which have been instrumental in helping communities solve their own problems along with technical and conciliation assistance from CRS.

In 1998, Mr. Walsh played a pivotal role in convening and facilitating organizational meetings on hate crime issues which led to the development a working committee composed of other Justice agencies, civil rights organizations, and the national police officer standards for training officials, which wrote four hate crimes training curriculums for core training, patrol officers, investigators, and police managers.

During the Boston School Desegregation Crisis in 1974, Federal Judge Arthur Garrity turned to Martin Walsh and the Community Relations Service to bridge the gulf between communities and the schools. During this critical period, CRS deployed 20 or more conciliators at a time in Boston to help restore calm and peaceful relations. CRS helped to create multiracial parent and student councils at each school and to establish a citywide parent council operation. CRS provided technical assistance for establishing a school security force to prevent problems, enlisted the active support of businesses, universities, and cultural institutions in upgrading the curriculum of Boston public schools, and conciliated and defused numerous racial incidents and crises associated with the desegregation process. CRS was a leading force in the formation of the Greater Boston Civil Rights Coalition, involving community leaders, educators, law enforcement, and government, which became a major means to educate the broader community on civil rights issues and to resolve major civil rights problems by bringing together a broad and diverse range of participants.

The Community Relations Service is an agency of the Department of Justice established by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. CRS provides assistance to communities and persons in resolving disputes, disagreements, or difficulties related to discriminatory practices based on race, ethnic, or national origin.


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Last Update October 22, 2001